RJ Barrett
(AP Photo/Nick Wass)

The New York Knicks and Milwaukee Bucks were respectively without Julius Randle and Giannis Antetokounmpo on Saturday night.

The New York Knicks faced quite the challenge after an epic comeback victory over the Washington Wizards on Thursday. Saturday night marked a visit to the Milwaukee Bucks, the No. 3 team in the Eastern Conference.

The best part? Reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo was out with an injury.

And Jrue Holiday.

And Khris Middleton and Donte DiVincenzo.

Okay, so maybe a win in Milwaukee wouldn’t necessarily be an upset on the Knicks’ end. However, they too were shorthanded as both Reggie Bullock and darkhorse MVP candidate Julius Randle were out.

Thankfully, Derrick Rose returned after a lengthy COVID-19 recovery, and Nerlens Noel returned from a shoulder issue.

Did the New York Knicks take advantage of Milwaukee’s shorthanded situation?

Cue the music!


1st quarter: Shot after shot

Alright, now that we’ve gotten the obligatory Milwaukee-related pop culture reference out of the way, let’s talk some hoops.

The first quarter went absolutely swimmingly for the New York Knicks, as the team shot 56.5% from the field. Even better, the Knicks sunk six threes and were shooting 50% from long range after one. RJ Barrett’s eight points led the way.

However, the Knicks took a hit on defense. Mitchell Robinson was helped to the locker room and later diagnosed with a broken foot. Furthermore, the short-handed Bucks held their own and only trailed 31-25 after the first quarter.

Odds still favored the Knicks, but the defense would need to tighten up.



Halftime report: The Bucks storm back

The New York Knicks led 57-54 at halftime, but Milwaukee made it clear this would not be a cakewalk. Second-round rookie Jordan Nwora scored 11 of his 16 points in the second quarter, and Noel ended the half with three fouls.

The Knicks were still in a good position but between the Bucks closing the gap and Robinson’s injury, the shots would need to fall in bunches.



3rd quarter: Rose’s run

Much of the third involved the New York Knicks and Milwaukee Bucks trading both baskets and lead. Cut to a New York timeout with just over four minutes remaining and Derrick Rose subbing back in, and the rest is history.

The Knicks came out of the timeout to go on a 9-0 run, defined by a clutch corner three from Kevin Knox. Rose just changed the pace of the game and got New York going enough that the Knicks led 81-77.

Would the fourth quarter see the Knicks push ahead, or would the depleted Bucks pull off a scrappy win?



4th quarter: Photo finish

The Milwaukee Bucks did all they could to make this an interesting game, namely a late 11-2 run that saw the game tied 96-96 with 1:35 remaining.

Cue a clutch Alec Burks three, and the New York Knicks held firm. An ill-timed technical foul on Brook Lopez made it a four-point game with mere seconds remaining. Barrett then sunk free throws to ice the game and make the 102-96 victory official.



Player of the game: Alec Burks

Burks drew the start tonight and scored 20 or more points for the fifth consecutive game. Even better tonight, he added 10 rebounds, five assists, and even a pair of blocked shots.



Josh Benjamin has been a staff writer at ESNY since 2018. He has had opinions about everything, especially the Yankees and Knicks. He co-hosts the “Bleacher Creatures” podcast and is always looking for new pieces of sports history to uncover, usually with a Yankee Tavern chicken parm sub in hand.